I think back to this past winter, I can remember one day that I awoke to the
sunshine streaming through the window. It was warm, very warm outside. I
took off my jacket and then my sweater. The sky was blue with a few
wispy clouds. The grass was green. The wind was warm, just like the
average breezy summer day.
I shivered and not because of the temperature. The date was January
12 and the place, Sackville, NB. Long time residents of Sackville talk
of harsh winters, prolonged storms, biting temperatures and blowing
snow. However, on that day, Sackville could be Florida and in general, this
has been the trend for the last two winters. Strange weather is nothing
new to me. As an individual worried about environmental issues, I have
been following the reports of increasing storms and warmer global
temperatures for the last six years.
Upon returning home, I called Environment Canada and this is the
surprising message that I heard: "Welcome to Environment Canada’s weather service.
Climate change could change our way of life. Rising temperatures and sea
levels, increasing participation in some areas and decreasing in others
and changing extreme weather behaviour. For more information please call
1 800 959 9606." Then the familiar "Forecasts for New
Brunswick issued at 11 am…" and so on. It is official. Climate
change is happening. What credibility the Global Climate Coalition had
has gone down the drain.
Environment Canada scientists predict that by the year 2080, the ice
will be gone from the Arctic and the North will be thirty degrees
warmer. The predictions are slightly less severe for southern Canada.
Indeed, this is mind-blowing. France just lost most of their
forests and has a clean-up bill of an estimated 75 billion dollars after
a severe weather event this Christmas, and NASA has documented a six
percent decline in total Arctic ice over the last 20 years. Canadian
researchers have discovered that the weight for both male and female
polar bears is declining and female bears are having fewer cubs. They
are starving. The future for the Polar bear is grim.
If you still doubt
they symptoms visit www.climatehotmap.org,
for a compilation of indicators from a coalition of environmental groups
in the US.
(photo: Environment CA)
could change our
way of life. Rising temperatures
As a part of Blue Green Society, a group of about forty
students based at Mount Allison University, I have been working on
climate change on and off since the major international meeting in
Kyoto, Japan in 1997.
At about that time, it became evident that the luke-warm government
policies would have little impact on the volume of greenhouse gases
being emitted each year and so Blue Green has made climate change a
Here are some of the ongoing projects:
audits- as part of a wider scoped environmental audit, in
1998 two students completed an analysis of the energy used by the
university and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. Another audit
will be completed this year to see what progress has been made (contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org . The entire
audit can be found at www.mta.ca/environment
The audit resulted in Mount Allison University adopting a comprehensive
environmental policy, the first of it’s kind in Canada, which commits
the university to reducing energy consumption wherever possible (and
there are many possible ways!)
· Bike trailers- based on a design from the US, two students have
been building trailers that fit behind bikes. These are constructed out
of aluminum and can move three hundred plus pounds (a sofa or two). We will
be employing these as a means to move furniture around Sackville for a
nominal fee, thereby reducing greenhouse emissions from cars. The design
can be found at www.bikesatwork.com
. For more information contact: email@example.com.
· Parking tickets-
these were developed by Adbusters to mimic
legitimate Department of Transport parking tickets with a few notable
exceptions. There is a fine of $17,000 for climate related damages. We
have awarded at least sixty of these already and have had a number of
people trying to pay these at the local police station. The police were
confused. The tickets can be downloaded from the suburbia section of www.adbusters.org.
· Climate Change Caravan- in the spirit of recent Direct Action
activities against the WTO and the WB/IMF, a group of twenty of us (and
anyone else who wants to) will be heading off across Canada on bikes
next summer, pedalling various contraptions including a car and a rickshaw.
We will be performing concerts, speaking in schools and stopping at the
various legislatures along the way. The event is being planned via a
discussion list. Please join if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· A final project underway is the establishment of a
wind turbine to
power the Mount Alison University, thereby eliminating our greenhouse gas emissions.
There is significant wind potential in the Sackville Marsh. With
permission from NB Power, it would be economically feasible to establish
a wind turbine. Much work remains to be done on this one.
For more information contact: email@example.com